Friday, 27 June 2014

Tottenham Court Road

The West End Project is a £26 million investment to improve the area around the Tottenham Court Road area. There is a desperate need to improve here, as fast traffic is encouraged, making it a terrible place to walk or cycle. While walkers and bus passengers will see a vast improvement, as the project stands, cyclists get nothing.

Yes, we get some small plastic blobs on Gower Street, but these fail to work effectively on Royal College Street, a lightly used road. Suggesting these on a main road is absurd.

The plans for Tottenham Court Road are essentially to create an Oxford Street v2.0. Cycles will share with 176 buses per hour during peak times, and then with general traffic in the evenings and on Sundays.

Therefore I've done a redesign of Tottenham Court Road, to include cycle tracks and floating bus stops to make Tottenham Court Road safe for cycling. Its a large bitmap and probably not clear, so click here for a link to a PDF you can download.

I've assumed that roads outside the West End Project will not change, and I've not really changed roads other than Tottenham Court Road. Therefore side roads may not be perfect.

The objection for proper cycle tracks was lack of space at a few points. There was objections for floating bus stops, as the carriageway isn't wide enough. These objections even came from a cycling campaign group, whom I won't name, who really should be campaigning for the best, and not making terrible compromises.

Firstly, a few narrow points should not compromise the whole design. These sections are short compared to the overall length of Tottenham Court Road, so it should be perfectly acceptable to compromise. Instead of a 2 meter wide track, a 1.5 meter one would have to be installed. This is substandard, but acceptable for short sections if it allows for excellent facilities elsewhere.

Floating bus stops also fit into Tottenham Court Road. Yes, some pavement space would have to be taken away. However, bus stops are not usable space for pedestrians anyway. Bus shelters create pinch points on pavements and lead to clutter. If these are moved out to an island, this is better for pedestrians, even if a small amount of pavement space is lost.

To conclude, cyclists are being ignored in the West End Project. Money isn't an object here, so if space for cycling cannot be created here, hope for it elsewhere greatly reduces.

On Monday 30th June, I'm going to an event organised by Camden Cycling Campaign regarding this project. If you are interested in the West End Project, I recommend you come too. And if you see me, say hi :)


  1. Dear @maidstoneonbike

    Thank you for your attempt to find a solution that allows protected cycling on TCR. And also thank you for taking the trouble to produce a nice drawing of the concept.

    What you are suggesting is very similar to something that Camden Cyclists proposed to Camden Council who drew it up to show that it would not fit in. Camden Council describe it as Option 3 in the consultation. The proposals and their comments are given in detail on Camden Cyclists website at:

    Your blog states incorrectly that the "objections to floating bus stops due to lack of carriageway width came from Camden Cyclists (whose name you will not mention)". If you would read the part of that report (from Jan 2013) more carefully, you will notice that Camden Cyclists reported that floating bus stops would not fit on measured drawings made by Camden Council and also noted that the jury was still out on the use of floating bus bus stops in very crowded places.

    Since then I have the impression from talking to others in LCC that many of them think that floating bus stops are not a very appropriate solution in crowded high streets.

    Before I go any further, I would like to suggest that however frustrated we feel we should not sneer at one another. It's not getting anywhere and since you say you're coming to the meeting which was arranged by Camden Cyclists, it might be more productive to be a bit more positive towards one another.

    I will now make a few comments on some of the details on your illustration:

    - at the southern end, from just north of Great Russell Street to Bayley Street the carriageway is mostly 8.5 - 9.5 m wide yet you propose a floating bus stop on the west side

    - between Bayley Street and Goodge Street you propose 1.5 m lane on one side where the carriageway is mostly 10.5 - 11m wide. The footways here are mostly only 4m or so which with the proximity of the Cross Rail station can't be cut much.

    - Just north of Torrington Place you propose a floating bus stop on the west side opposite what's effectively a floating loading bay: this would require quite a bit of extra carriageway width – surely you'd agree that TCR requires footways wider than 2m.

    - On the west side from a point between Torrington Place and Howland Street to Maple Street you propose 'continuous pavement and cycle track', where there is a continuous row of big trees on the footway all along here.
    and any cycle track would have to run behind the trees. This is something Camden Cyclists discussed but decided against.

    Jean Dollimore

    1. The reason I made my diagrams was to show it would fit in!

      The reason Camden Cyclists are saying that it wouldn't fit in is because they are being too selfless. A pedestrian campaign group wouldn't accept second best for pedestrians because bus passengers get a good deal, for example.

      In my opinion Camden cyclists should be pushing for the best. The alternative is a horrible road for cycling on, which undermines what we should be campaigning for.

    2. Besides. Putting the bus infrastructure on a bus stop would really benefit pedestrians by taking it out of their way. Some pedestrians would switch to bicycles, and also, cars don't need even 3 metres per direction. 2.8 metres per direction should work well. So a 2.2 metre wide cycle track ordinarily, a 2 metre wide cycle track behind the bus stops, (slight amount of space taken from the bus stop island) and if you have angled kerbs, it should make it acceptable. We could also close off the road to private motor traffic and restrict it to buses only.

  2. Cyclists could get 2.5 metre wide cycle tracks. Pedestrians have less space because they are intimidated by cars, so they walk as far as they can. .5 metres isn't much for pedestrians but it can make a cycle track quite a lot nicer.